What lessons could other communities learn from Charlotte?

Two major hurricanes hit North Carolina in the last month, and while the damage was severe to some parts of the state, damage from flooding in the Charlotte area was less than it would have been a decade ago. This is due to many years of hard work and preparation in the making.

It all started in 1995 after Tropical Storm Jerry. Charlotte homes flooded and the storm led to $5 million in property damage. However, as time passed, residents and local government officials forgot how bad the flooding had been.

It wasn’t until Hurricane Danny in 1997 that major flooding hit Charlotte again. The major difference from the ‘95 flood to the ‘97 flood was there was a number of homes that flooded, yet, they were outside of Charlotte’s mapped floodplain. This raised doubts about the accuracy of Charlotte’s floodplain maps. In addition to all of this, came pressure from people who lived in neighborhoods that flooded for the second time in three years. It was clear that local support for a new, proactive approach to flooding had to be a priority.

The first step Charlotte took was buying out homes that were in floodplains- areas that are prone to flooding because they’re right by creeks or rivers that are prone to flooding. With federal grants from FEMA, as well as funding from the county, Charlotte initiated a home buyout program. Since 1999, the program has bought out more than 400 homes in floodplains and demolished them- ultimately restoring creek and river banks over time. All in all, the buyout program cost more than $71 million. However, the buyouts have saved $27 million in property damages, according to the county. During Hurricane Florence alone, the program saved $1.9 million.

It is important to note that buying out houses and tearing them down isn’t sustainable in the long-term by itself. Stormwater flood sensors were also placed at rivers across the city. This sensor sends a beam down to the water, which then determines the distance between the sensor and the water. All of those sensors make up FINS, or the Flood Information & Notification System which track flooding in real time. Once the water elevates to where it’s going to breach over the road, the fire department then gets notified before any people or roads bear the cost. While the real time emergency notification system is useful for first responders, it didn’t solve a bigger issue Charlotte was facing- outdated maps.

Most states use the flood maps FEMA provides. However, at the time in the 1990’s, a lot of these maps hadn’t been updated for North Carolina since the 1970s. FEMA didn’t have enough money to update all the flood maps across the country constantly. So, local governments worked together to set aside a couple million dollars to map flooding. This included a new process called “future conditions floodplain mapping.” This process takes land development and use into account, and helps determine how cities can best orient themselves to avoid damage from flooding. To accurately map flooding, the state partnered with FEMA and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The program in Charlotte was getting off the ground when another hurricane hit the state in 1999, Hurricane Floyd. At this time, politicians got the North Carolina General Assembly on board with tracking rivers in real time and making future conditions floodplain maps for the state. Unfortunately, in most states, it’s hard to get legislators to budget for expensive services such as this, especially when many still rely on old maps. Other states such as Alabama and Florida partnered with North Carolina to develop similar mapping programs. States even talked to experts on flood mapping in North Carolina to help their own programs.

The Charlotte case study is a great example of efforts that could be made by other communities in flood mapping and efforts to decrease damage from flooding. The success of all the planning and preparation is credited to a willingness for the city, county and state to adapt. Ultimately, the answer that worked was a “no” to flood prevention, and “yes” to damage prevention.

 

 

 

No Straw November Challenge!

Millions of plastic straws are being used daily all around the world. Many end up in our waterways where they harm wildlife, impact water quality, and add to pollution. The goal of “No Straw November” is to bring awareness to the many plastic straws that are being used once and then thrown away in a single month. This national campaign challenges people to refuse plastic straws the whole month of November while raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution. One plastic straw does not seem like much, but they add up one by one and have damaging effects on the environment. Because plastic does not biodegrade, nearly every piece of plastic ever made still exists. Over time, plastics break into increasingly smaller pieces called microplastics, which ultimately find their way up the food chain and into our seafood and drinking water. Plastic pollution in our waterways is also often mistaken for food by animals like sea turtles, fish, and seals, impacting millions of marine organisms and, human health.strawGlobewMsg1200x475-1024x405Straws are just one of several plastic items that the public thinks are recyclable, yet often are not due to ineffective processes and high costs. Plastic straws contaminate recycling because they are too small to capture and make into new products. Ultimately, straws reduce the value of other recyclables and end up in landfills.

What Can You Do To Get Involved?

Simply request “no straw” at bars & restaurants and share your commitment with others. Encourage your favorite restaurant or bar to only provide straws on request from the customer and to use reusable or naturally compostable options to the plastic straw. Print these forms and hand them out to staff, management, commercial businesses, schools, etc. that use plastic straws.

We also invite all bars and restaurants, to be part of the movement to eliminate plastic pollution from the source. By simply stating on menus “Straws available upon request”, bars and restaurants can be part of the solution.

Here’s How:

  • Provide a straw only when requested by a customer
  • Provide either reusable or naturally compostable straws
  • Or get rid of straws completely

To learn more about this national effort, visit https://thelastplasticstraw.org/. Break the plastic straw habit during November…and beyond!

 

Schools: This One’s For You!

How can I do my part to ensure clean water resources and a greener environment in my school? Many people should be asking this important question! Whether you are a parent, teacher, school staff member, student, or community volunteer, you want your school to provide a healthy, welcoming place to learn. In this Blog, there are several ideas about how educational institutions can take a step towards a cleaner, greener future for our water.

Schools use a tremendous amount of water every day, and require water for their heating and cooling systems, restrooms, drinking water faucets, locker rooms, cafeteria, laboratories, and outdoor playing fields and lawns. Small steps in the community toward water conservation can make a big impact. Integrating conservation efforts in educational program for students makes an impact for future generations. Greener schools also protect the environment, keep teachers and students healthy, as well as promote environmental values in young, impressionable minds.

Reusable Water Bottles

Students and teachers can take reusable water bottles to school instead of buying plastic water bottles. Plastic water bottles are not sustainable when being manufactured, shipped, and discarded around the globe. U.S. landfills are overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles alone. Much of the plastic we consume ends up in the world’s water supply, where it is even harder to fish out and safely throw away. Many bottled water plastics also contain toxins that can have a harmful effect on human health. Financially in the long run, your wallet will also thank you!

Recycle!

When you’re able to recycle, you should! All schools should have proper recycling and compost programs to ensure a clean environment. Whether its paper products, food products, plastics or upcycling old items, it’s important to think about which trash can be saved from a landfill.  If you are planning on kicking off a recycling or composting program at your school in the future, it is helpful to know how much of each kind of waste your school produces so you target the right items. There are a lot of reasons to find out where your starting point is- the celebration of your schools success will be that much better if you can measure how far you’ve come! And showing measureable success is the best way to get other school’s on board with your program.

Recycling cuts back on energy consumption and can prevent water pollution in the future. In addition to recycling, composting is a great way to promote a responsible and environmentally friendly way to deal with food scraps and waste. The finished compost product can help enhance the soil and plant quality in school vegetable and flower gardens- acting as a buffer for storm water. Composting food wastes also saves water by reducing the water needed to run a garbage disposal. We can close the loop on the food system by diverting food waste from landfills and turning it back into soil to grow more food.

Energy Conservation

Water and energy are closely linked. A clean reliable water source consumes energy and water conservation leads to energy conservation. The clean water that flows out of a faucet needs energy in many stages of processing and transport before it gets to the tap. A system of pipes delivers water to the school, and in many systems, electric pumping is used to deliver the water at the proper level of pressure. The wastewater that flows away from the school must be transported to a wastewater treatment plant to be treated and released back into the natural water cycle. This also requires energy. The transportation of water is one of the most significant uses of energy in freshwater production. It is important to remember that when you conserve water, you conserve energy as well. Which leads to my next point… water conservation!

Water usage and conservation

Outdoors:

In a schools outdoor environment, a lot can also be done to reduce water use. Water-efficient landscaping helps a school conserve water outdoors. A school can maximize natural, native vegetative cover and limit lawn space. Most native plants can survive on the natural rainfall in the area since they are accustomed to the climate. Maintaining fields using drought tolerant grasses is also important. Consider planting more trees, shrubs, ground covers, and less grass. Shrubs and ground covers provide greenery for much of the year and usually demand less water.  Applying mulch around shrubs and flower beds can help them retain moisture. This reduces the amount of watering necessary to keep the ground moist. Adding compost or an organic matter to soil will improve soil conditions and water retention. Collecting rainfall for irrigation is another important step to ensure water conservation. Avoid using a hose to clean off school walkways. Rather, opt for a broom to clean walkways, driveways, and entrances.

Indoors:

At school or in your daily life, cutting down on water usage can save more water and make a bigger impact than you’d think. As stated earlier, schools use a large amount of water every day, and require water for their heating and cooling systems, restrooms, drinking water faucets, locker rooms, cafeteria, laboratories, and outdoor playing fields and lawns. To reduce water use in the school, consider replacing old equipment such as dishwashers with energy saving devices. Repair water leaks and leaky toilets. Installing sensor-operated sinks work well for kids because the faucets shut off automatically. Using water-efficient toilets, low-flow shower heads and timer shut-off devices to reduce water use during showers can dramatically reduce the amount of water consumed. Collecting excess water and using it later can also help to conserve water in the long run. For example, establishing a rain barrel or placing containers under school water fountains to use in the garden for later are some good ideas.

Student Involvement

Launch a water conservation awareness campaign within the school. Encourage your teachers and classmates to discuss the benefits of conserving water and ways the students can get involved in using less water. A water conservation poster contest allows all of the kids to take part in spreading the news. Choose the best designs and have them turned into permanent signs to hang in the restrooms. The signs serve as a reminder for students to conserve water. Assigning students the role of water monitors during busy restroom times also puts the responsibility in the hands of the students. Teachers can enhance their hydrology lesson plans with relevant, local environmental information. Schools can also take part in community clean-up events, Earth Week celebrations, and water related field trips/events to enforce the importance of water quality for their students. Communities can also organize a tree-planting event on school grounds, or organize a school-ground naturalization project to create opportunities for outdoor learning through hands-on experience.

Talk to your school’s staff and fellow classmates:

All students, teachers, administrators, cooks and janitors should ask themselves if there is a another way to do their job that will minimize waste and impaired water quality. For example, chefs in schools can be informed and avoid pouring fat from cooking or any other type of fat, oil, or grease down the drain. School chefs can try to purchase sustainable meats for school lunch as it is important to think about the impact of factory farms on our water supply. These farms produce huge amounts of waste, which ends up harming the nearby water supplies. Whenever possible, buying sustainable meats instead of those produced at factory farms will make a huge difference on the schools indirect water usage. Administration can come together to put more recycling and trash cans around the school as well as outside to prevent litter build up. It is also important that a schools community avoid disposing of hazardous chemicals or cleaning agents down the sink or toilet. Hazardous chemicals in schools can be found in cleaning supplies, aerosol cans, paints, science labs (mercury), art classrooms, janitors’ storerooms. Classes can also try to use less toxic glues, paints, markers, and other materials.

Stormwater Runoff:

What is Storm water?

When an area is developed, a large amount of impervious area, such as buildings and pavement, is introduced. When it rains, the water that once soaked into the ground is then carried into your ponds and lakes. If it is not managed properly, it can also lead to flooding. Additionally, the water carries pollutants with it, which are eventually carried into your streams, ponds, lakes, and the ocean. Stormwater has a large impact on the water quality and health of your environment.

How can you reduce Stormwater runoff at your school?

  • Parents and teachers can prevent their vehicle’s oil and other dangerous pollutants from leaking onto the schools nearby streets. Rain washes these materials from the streets into the nearest storm drain which is eventually carried into lakes and streams. Car owners can recycle used motor oil, maintain their vehicle to minimize leakage, avoid dumping any engine fluids, such as motor oil, antifreeze, or transmission fluid into storm drains, a ditch, or onto the ground. It is also important to clean up any spills as soon as possible.
  •  Planting native trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plants on the school’s property will act as a sponge for the environment and naturally soak up any runoff that is on its way to local waterbodies or storm drains.  It is important to use native plants as they more tolerant of drought conditions and need less water.
  • Building a rain garden can improve water quality in your school’s community and reduce storm-water by collecting and filtering runoff.
  • Installing a rain barrel can collect and store rainwater from your school’s roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff or diverted to storm drains and streams polluting the water. A rain barrel collects and stores water for when you need it most, such as during periods of drought, to water plants, wash your car and more.
  • Be aware of your schools disposal system for hazardous products such as for cleaning or chemicals used in chemistry/science classes. Hazardous chemicals, such as toxic cleaning products and experimental products, contain harmful substances. These chemicals usually make their way into drains, sinks, and toilets, which end up polluting nearby water bodies and the humans and wildlife that depend on them. Schools and teachers can contact their local sanitation, public works, or environmental health department to find out about hazardous waste collection days and sites or local recycling drop off options.
  • Decrease concrete, asphalt and hard surfaces around the school to reduce runoff and try to create landscapes with vegetation, gravel or other porous materials that will absorb rainwater.
  • Fertilizers and Pesticides: Fertilizers enrich the soil with nutrients necessary for plant growth and are used on most school grounds. Chemical or synthetic fertilizers are manufactured using man-made materials are not the best option for the environment. Pesticides are used on most school grounds to kill unwanted weeds or plants, and keep mosquitos, ticks, and other insects away.  Both fertilizers and pesticides have a negative impact on the environment and can pollute local water bodies. They are also toxic to humans, wildlife, aquatic invertebrates, and plants.  Pesticides contain neurological and reproductive toxins, which are dangerous to both children and adults. If the chemicals are applied incorrectly, or are allowed to run off into streams or storm drains, they actually fertilize the water and result in algae blooms. Algae blooms remove oxygen from water which can cause tragic fish kills and severe environmental damage. Garden pesticides can harm humans and pets too, with kids and pregnant women being at the highest risk for exposure. A school can still have great looking lawns and gardens without using harmful chemicals that affect the community’s health, water and wildlife. Schools can opt for more natural alternatives to chemical fertilizers such as composted manure, fish emulsions, alfalfa pellets, bone meal, and cottonseed meal. There are also many great sustainable alternatives to using chemical pesticides. It is important that schools get their soils tested, understand what products they are buying, consider alternatives, use the lawn products correctly, and dispose of the lawn care products efficiently so that they do not ultimately harm local water bodies. Schools should never dump leftover products down the drain or in the trash, as they will be carried directly to creeks. Schools should store leftover chemicals in a safe place until they can dispose of them at a hazardous waste drop off event, or give leftover products to other schools.
  • If your school is close to any streams or rivers, consider planting grass buffer strips or trees along the banks to protect water quality and prevent contaminants, such as fertilizers and pesticides used at your school, from entering the environment and traveling to other locations.

In summary, a school should think about controlling and reducing water runoff from its site, consume fresh water as efficiently as possible and recover and reuse gray water to the extent feasible because basic efficiency measures can reduce a school’s water use by 30% or more. It is also important to note that schools who provide educational opportunities create very valuable opportunities for hands-on learning and the potential to instill environmental values in future generations. These reductions and implementations help the environment, locally and regionally and lower a school’s operating expenses. The technologies and techniques used to conserve water – especially landscaping, education and outreach, water treatment, and recycling strategies – can be used to help instruct students about ecology and the environment.

 

Imagine a Day Without Water

Sometimes, it is easy to take clean water from homes and businesses for granted. However, could you imagine a day without water? Without safe, reliable water and wastewater services?

What does a day without water actually mean? A day without water means no water comes out of your tap to brush your teeth. There is no water to do laundry or make coffee. When you flush the toilet, nothing happens. Firefighters have no water to put out fires, hospitals would close, and farmers couldn’t water their crops. A single nationwide day without water would put $43.5 billion of economic activity at risk and nearly 2 million jobs in jeopardy. A day without water would be nothing short of a national crisis.

The US Water Alliance is holding its fourth annual Imagine A Day Without Water day to raise awareness and educate America about the value of water. This day is a national education campaign with the goal to engage stakeholders, organization, businesses, public officials, and the general public about how water is essential, invaluable, and needs investment. It will take place October 10, 2018, and includes events, resolutions, social media engagement and more across the country. Last year, over 750 organizations came together to take part in this very important day. This year, we encourage everyone who cares about water to join this national day of action to secure a sustainable future. Participating groups can host events, promote social media campaigns, pass a resolution with your mayor or city council, or do whatever you think best educates and engages the public and stakeholders about how water is essential, invaluable, and worthy of investment. This important day also provides teachers and educators the opportunity to reinforce the importance of water with their students through various activities, conversations, field trips, and events.

This crisis may seem unthinkable to most of us, however, some communities in America know how impossible it is to go a day without water. From man-made tragedies in Flint, Michigan, to water scarcity issues in Central California, to water pollution contamination from hurricane Florence right here in North Carolina. There are millions of Americans living in communities that do not have the infrastructure to provide safe water service, relying on bottled water and septic systems every day. The problems that face our drinking water and wastewater systems are due to many variables. The infrastructure is aging and in need of investment, having gone underfunded for decades. Drought, flooding, and climate change stress water and wastewater systems. Although these regional challenges will require locally-driven solutions, reinvestment in our water must be a national priority.

While we aren’t celebrating a day without water, we are definitely observing this day as an appreciation for the natural water resources available to us in our country! Water scarcity is a public health issue as well as an economic issue. A day without water is undoubtedly a crisis. No community can thrive without water, and every American deserves a safe, reliable, accessible water supply. Let’s demand better, and make sure no American has to “Imagine a Day Without Water” again. As a partner in the Imagine a Day Without Water movement, please check out this video to learn more about how Americans can come together to save our most precious resource.

 

 

Hurricane Florence and the Hazards of Stormwater Runoff

The Atlantic Hurricane season is now upon us for 2018. The season began on June 1st and runs through to the end of November. Although it is possible for storms to form outside of this time frame, we can expect the bulk of the weather to fall in this period. As Hurricane Florence nears the Carolina coast, many local stores are experiencing empty gasoline pumps and barren store shelves. Hurricane Florence will generate 140 mph (225 kph) winds and drenching rain that could last for days. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency and prompted those who live on the coast to evacuate inland. While many think a hurricane only harms coastal communities, flash flooding, high winds, tornadoes, landslides, and mud slides can cause incredible damage to inland communities both during and long after a major storm event like Florence.

It is important to understand that even after a hurricane passes through your neighborhood, you could still be at risk. The precipitation that does not soak into the ground where it falls is referred to as “stormwater runoff“, which can continue to accumulate and cause flooding issues for several days after the rain stops. This runoff is incredibly good at picking up whatever it comes into contact with as it travels downward to the lowest elevation, so it can sometimes also contain hazardous substances such as debris, chemicals, oils and grease, sediment, bacteria, and other pollutants.

Contamination of local waterways is a major threat that can arise from heavy rainfall. Runoff may pollute rivers, lakes, aquifers, and other water bodies nearby. This can add chemicals and hazardous substances to water sources that people drink and swim in. Runoff may be harmful for humans or livestock which may attempt to feed off of plants or water sources that have been affected by runoff. When water runs off roofs, yards, streets, and parking lots into storm sewers or directly into waterways, it carries with it sediments that clog streams and reduce oxygen in the water, as well as chemicals that can be fatal to aquatic ecosystems and lead to undrinkable water supplies for humans.

What To Do During Hurricane Florence

To avoid contributing to runoff pollution during Hurricane Florence, residents can take certain precautions such as cleaning up any debris or waste in yards and streets, and refraining from fertilizing and watering yards, or using toxic products directly before the hurricane. Other steps you can take include reducing the amount of impervious surfaces on your property, lining impervious surfaces with gravel trenches, using the water that drains off your roof, replacing lawn areas with native plants, adding organic matter to your soil, planting trees, creating a rain garden, installing berms and vegetated swales, as well as reducing the slope of your yard. It is also important to ensure pet waste is disposed of properly, as pet waste left on the ground can be washed into surface waters, causing significant bacterial contamination and boosting the nutrients to unsafe levels. It is also important to secure septic systems to ensure that waste does not seep into runoff.

Rain is never going away, and neither is human infrastructure. However, growing technologies like permeable pavement, rain garden construction in urban centers, and public education can go a long way in protecting the health of the lakes, rivers, and oceans that so many people and animals call home. By working together to preserve plant life that filters storm water and taking steps in our everyday lives to slow runoff and instead use it for something like a rain garden, we can begin to tackle the problem of stormwater pollution together.

City of Raleigh Hosting Hurricane Season Flooding Series August 28 and 29

The City of Raleigh sees the most flooding impacts from hurricanes in September and October. To help you prepare, the City is holding public meetings that cover:

  • Why flooding happens;
  • What to expect in different areas of the city;
  • What the City does to reduce impacts from flooding; and,
  • Available community resources.

WRAL meteorologist Greg Fishel will be there to lend his expertise as well!

Click on the links below to find out more information about the series – no reservations are required.

Flooding Series: What you Need to Know During Hurricane Season
August 28 at 6 p.m.
Walnut Creek Wetland Center, 950 Peterson St.

Flooding Series: What you Need to Know During Hurricane Season
August 29 at 6 p.m.
Lake Lynn Community Center, 7921 Ray Road

Spotlight on Cary – Stormwater Program of the Month!

Each month we will be featuring the outstanding work that our CWEP Partners are doing to keep our stormwater clean around the region and in your communities. This month we’re focusing on the Town of Cary as they strive to continue increasing public engagement and awareness of stormwater in their everyday lives!

In the Town of Cary’s continuing engagement with downtown stormwater stakeholders, staff gave a guided tour to about 10 citizens, including developers and downtown homeowners, to see real-life examples of stormwater management in practice and public-private opportunities. NC State University professor Dr. Bill Hunt was in attendance and provided valuable insights. In addition to the walking tour, attendees were able to see the new truck that is cleaning out stormwater drains in a Town of Cary pilot area as part of their proactive approach to maintenance.

DT Stormwater Tour 1

The tour infused plenty of Town technology by utilizing a stormwater storymap via iPad devices in order to supplement the talking points at each spot along the tour. The tour group was encouraged to share the walking tour and storymap with their social circles and continue using the features through the publicly accessible website. Since the tour, the Town of Cary has seen traffic to the storymap website double. Be sure to check out this cool technology and see photos of stormwater education in action!

Spotlight on Hillsborough – Stormwater Program of the Month!

Each month we will be featuring the outstanding work that our CWEP Partners are doing to keep our stormwater clean around the region and in your communities. This month we’re focusing on Hillsborough as they work to grow their stormwater education and outreach programs and maximize their impact with the community!

Stormwater Almanac

The Hillsborough Stormwater and Environmental Services division publishes a Stormwater Almanac quarterly, featuring educational articles and updates on Town stormwater projects. The most recent issue highlighted the Town’s stormwater retrofit that directed additional stormwater runoff to a bioretention cell in Cates Creek park.

CatesCreekParkRetrofit_NewInlet

Volunteers Help Maintain Wetland

Triangle Fly Fishers, a local fly fishing and conservation group recently completed maintenance at the Town of Hillsborough’s stormwater wetland located at Gold Park. Volunteers removed cattails, unwanted woody vegetation, as well as trash and debris. As part of the effort, Stormwater and Environmental Services Manager, Terry Hackett explained how the wetland functions to remove stormwater pollution which benefits the nearby Eno River.

StormwaterWetlandVolunteerMaintenance

Citizens Academy

Stormwater and Environmental Services staff presented to the Town of Hillsborough’s 4th Citizens Academy. The Citizens Academy is a 7-week long program aimed at helping citizens increase their knowledge of town government, as well as their interest and ability in influencing and participating in town decisions.  Staff provided an overview of the town’s stormwater program, including the town’s stormwater management utility and associated fee. Participants then had the opportunity to ask questions to gain more insight about the town’s efforts to reduce stormwater runoff pollution.

Earth Evening 2018

Every year on the Friday night of Earth Week, the division speaks with the public and leads hands-on activities for all ages during the annual Earth Evening event at the Market Pavilion in River Park, downtown Hillsborough. This event is organized by Orange County Department of Environment, Agriculture, Parks and Recreation. The division also leads similar activities at local schools throughout the year.

TES_Science_Night_2018

SCM Recognition Program

The division is kicking off a recognition program for owners of Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs) this month. The town requires SCM owners to maintain their SCMs and submit annual inspection reports. The program will recognize those property owners who have exceptional compliance records and consistently maintain SCMs, following all applicable maintenance requirements. While recognizing deserving property owners, we also hope to achieve greater public awareness of our SCM inspection program.

For more information about the great work Hillsborough is doing, feel free to reach out to the Town’s Stormwater Coordinator Heather Fisher at 919-296-9622!

City of Raleigh 2018 Capture it! Stormwater Arts Contest Winners Announced

Congratulations to the City of Raleigh’s 2018 Capture it! Stormwater Arts Contest winners! Winners for the three categories below were announced at the 11th Annual Environmental Awards in March:

Video Winner – “Stormwater Video” by Ryann Bauguess, Rachel Young, and Kira Badrova

 

Check out the winning video below!

Storm Drain Stencil Design Winner  “All Drains to the Neuse” by Genna Stott

Storm Drain Stencil Winner 2018

Rain Barrel Artwork Design Winner – “Which Side are you on?” by Izabel de Angelo, Davis Lingle, Jonathan Clymer, and Taylor Gantt.

Rain Barrel Winner 2018

Spotlight on Durham: Stormwater Program of the Month!

Each month we will be featuring the outstanding work that our CWEP Partners are doing to keep our stormwater clean around the region and in your communities. This month we’re focusing on Durham and their longstanding Creek Week efforts, as well as their pledge to keep more plastic waste out of our waters!

There is a lot going on in March for both the City and County of Durham, as well as their many environmental partners in the community! Durham’s Creek Week has been an established event for the last decade, and each year it grows and evolves even more. In conjunction with this year’s Creek Week, there are lots of other great events, initiatives, and opportunities to get involved with cleaning up your environment and keeping our water safe. For a list of all Creek Week events, check out this website: Durham Creek Week Events Page.  Whether you’re interested in a litter cleanup event, planting a tree, or even a canoe paddle, you’ll definitely find something fun to do!

Skip the Straw!

More than 500,000,000 straws are used once and tossed every day in this country! Mayor Steve Schewel has proclaimed March “No Straws Month” in Durham: “Single use plastics that find their way onto our streets get washed through storm drains into local creeks and all the way to the ocean,” says Mayor Schewel. “Plastic litter is a roadside eyesore, and it also can be fatal to river and ocean animals.” To kick off the month, a screening of the environmental awareness documentary “Straws” by Linda Booker was provided at the Durham Arts Council on February 22nd – it was a packed house with help from Bull City Burger and Brewery, Pompieri Pizza, Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, Keep Durham Beautiful, The City of Durham Stormwater & GIS Services, Don’t Waste DurhamCompostNow, and other local environmentally conscious businesses!

Check out the trailer for “Straws” and learn more about this plastic pollution!

Several restaurants, bars, business, and other entities have taken the pledge to reduce or eliminate straw use in their establishments – some bars have even permanently moved to using only metal or other green straws! If you want to challenge yourself to have an impact on this type of plastic waste (and we promise, it’s won’t be too hard!), take the pledge at the link below:

Take the Pledge to SKIP THE STRAW here!

Don’t Litter, Man!

Don’t Litter, Man Full Video

Local Durhamite Pierce Freelon leads a litter art and beats workshop for youth at The Scrap Exchange to show that litter goes all the way to the ocean. Check out this fun video and show it to your kids, classroom, or even your coworkers!